How to Kickstart Your Coding Career
If you’re considering a coding bootcamp, chances are you’re looking to jump-start your career. The demand for programmers is sky-high and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. You want a piece of the action.
And so does everybody else. High starting salaries and booming demand have drawn a lot of people to web development. It’s easy to think, “I’ll just go to a coding bootcamp, work my butt off for a few months, and then snag an easy job.”
Obviously, knowing how to program is an important part of, well, being a programmer. Learning how to code is no picnic—it takes serious dedication, perseverance, and gallons of caffeinated beverages. But the reality is raw skills won’t entitle you to a job (unless you’re The Carver). Especially your first job.
Charlie Day was right: Finding a job isn’t as simple as strapping on a job helmet, squeezing into a job cannon, and firing off into Jobland where the jobs grow on jobbies.
A polished resume, LinkedIn profile, and interview practice are all important parts of any job seeker’s strategy, regardless of occupation. But those elements are just a way of signaling to employers that you have one of the things they want. The other element? A passion for what you do.
Like it or not, employers want to know that you learned to code for the right reasons. Of course, they know you’re excited about the job opportunities, high salaries, and flexibility of working in tech. That’s a given. What they’re really concerned about: Do you actually like coding? Will you continue to develop your skills after you’re hired? Or are you just in the game for the money? If they don’t see your passion, you’re going to be at a major disadvantage.
So, you want to have hiring managers fawning all over you? You’re going to need to show them that you want more than a job—you want a career.
You’ve got to be passionate about coding and web development. Here’s how to kickstart your coding career:
Making a name for yourself in the local software development community is one of the best ways you can get yourself out there. Most cities have their own tech-specific Meetup groups and love to see passionate new coders. This can get you plugged in to lots of collaborative coding opportunities (biweekly hack night at a local hangout, why not?) as you continue to work on the projects you started during your coding bootcamp. When you’re a known quantity in the developer community, job interviews are almost a formality.
But Meetups and hackathons aren’t the only way to show your involvement. Every small town and city has some kind of youth programming initiative. What better way to show your passion than to encourage others to follow in your footsteps? No matter where you live, it’s almost certain that you can find some opportunities to volunteer for local organizations dedicated to making computer science education available to everyone. These organizations exist in almost every city, and they do some seriously awesome work, especially in youth education. And if you somehow find yourself in a place that doesn’t have volunteer opportunities? Make them! I can’t think of a single community organization that wouldn’t be thrilled to offer some form of basic programming education for the community.
Make frequent (and meaningful) contributions to GitHub so potential employers can see your dedication to learning the craft is genuine. Start submitting as soon as you start learning to code, and keep doing it after you graduate.
That last point can’t be stressed enough. Keep. Doing. It.
Don’t take a vacation from your learning. Hiring companies often tell me they reject coding bootcamp grads after a review of their GitHub shows a decline in—or complete lack of—activity after their bootcamp ends. You’ve put so much time and effort into learning to code, so why give up at the finish line? Learning new skills after the program ends not only gives you something to talk about during a job interview, it also gives you the confidence you’ll need to start making real contributions in your first development role.
Whether you get a job offer three days or three months after you graduate, keep the learning momentum you built while you were a coding bootcamp student. Create a weekly learning schedule and hold yourself accountable throughout the search process. That kind of self-discipline will take you further than any fancy resume and perfectly tailored cover letter ever could.
If you have questions about programming in any capacity, let us know. Both our online program and our on-campus coding bootcamp are designed to give you the raw skills and the job support you’ll need to launch your career in software development. Whether your questions are technically specific, more broadly aimed at the programming career path, or anything in between, we’d be happy to help you out. You can learn more about our online program, or sign up for an on-campus interview.
Corinne Babel is VP of Career Services at Launch Academy.